Oops! ... She Sang It Again: Britney Spears Does Eva Tanguay

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 2 2009 12:27 PM

Oops! ... She Sang It Again: Britney Spears Does Eva Tanguay


In my


piece on the forgotten vaudeville great Eva Tanguay ("

"), I argue that "today's pop feels more than ever like one big reiteration of Tanguay's career," and that the divas who dominate the

2009 Billboard

charts are Tanguay's spiritual heirs. But it had somehow escaped my attention, in several years of researching and obsessing over Tanguay, that the pre-pubescent Britney Spears had belted out the vaudevillian's career-making signature number "I Don't Care" in a talent show performance immortalized on VH-1's

Behind the Music

. (Big hat tip to

listener Chris Barker for bringing this to my attention.) Britney's brassy, big band-style "I Don't Care" is clearly less indebted to Tanguay herself than to

in the 1949 MGM musical

In the Good Old Summertime

. Still, it's pleasant to contemplate the cosmic symmetry of our own millennial "I Don't Care Girl" blasting out Eva's proto-feminist anthem from 1904. And by the way, Britney sounds in better voice here than she has at anytime since.


Jody Rosen is a Slate contributor.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Jan. 23 2015 11:55 AM What Happened at Slate This Week? Traffic swami Jeremy Stahl tallies his favorite stories of the week, from #Ballghazi to #SotU.